THE EYE OF THE STORM

We said good bye to El Nino yesterday, after a long battle with premature aging, and various illness.

El Nino was found with his sister, La Nina, in a box on the middle of the street during one of the fiercest storm in Bandung, six years ago. They were always sickly, but they always bounced back.

El Nino was the shadow of his sister. Wherever Nina go, he will go, whatever Nina do, he will do. He will protect Nina at all cost, he will wait until Nina finished eating, before he takes his turn.

Like his name, my relationship with Nino is stormy. He was sweet and charming and patient and kind, and I love him more than any word can say.

Six years ago, when they were just about one year and just been spayed and neutered, I took them and we all moved into our permanent (still on mortgage) property.

We had nothing. An ironing board that function as our kitchen counter, a filling cabinet full of documents, few bags of clothing, and many boxes of towels.

I had spent everything to the very last dime. Aside from one door that separates their territory and mine (and the sick and the young and the dying), there was nothing else I can do.

My day job was at the other end of town, and only few buses go that way, so I have to go very early, and come home very late.

One day I opened the front door to Nino crying desperately as he lead me to his sister, dangling lifelessly on the window.

Nina had tried to jump into the kitchen through the window and got stuck on her tummy. Cannot go back, cannot go forth. Despite all my efforts, she was hanging in there too long and finally lost her life.

El Nino was never the same cat again. He become grumpy and angry, his blood is always on the boil, he picked a fight with every one, and he will not let me touch him. He will not listen to me, and if I tried to talk to him, he either talked back or brush me off.

But in the eye of that storm, I saw silence. I saw loneliness, I saw a lost kitten.

Every time I saw him, I saw the eye of the storm, trapped between all of the world that spins around him in jumble and tumble.

Yet I always extend my hand. A part of it, out of guilt, because I was not there, but most of all, I want him to know he is not alone. I feel the same pain, I feel the same regret, and I love him just the same, if not all the more.

There were time when he forgot to be grumpy and play with others. There were times when he stop being a jerk and become everybody’s sweetheart, there were times when he was El Nino: sweet and charming, patient, kind, and funny

There was a time, few months ago, when he was sick and can do nothing but lift his head – calicivirus – and I took him into the house so I can pay more attention to his healing.

He healed, but never recovered. He is tired easily, he is not as grumpy, he is getting old three years in a day.

He still glare at me, fiercely, but when I look into his eyes, I see the eye of the storm. Still the same kitten, still the same love, just a lot more age.

Time after time, he is getting thinner. He eats less, he sleeps more.

He lets me touch him, he let me carry him, he no longer talk back, and when I sat by the floor looking to the moon, he’ll be by my side.

Yesterday afternoon, he looked at me from the glass door that separates his territory and mine (and the kittens, the sick, and everything in between). With that fierce eye, with that eye of the storm.

And then, he went under our lemon tree, the tree that follow us since our first day into this house. He likes to climb there, he likes to sleep under its shade.

I kind of knew.

Like the storm, rolling far and wide, it dissipates.

And take El Nino to the sky.

~ Josie

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Good morning from The Whiskers Syndicate!

Josie and Sheilla have just rescued this pretty tortie and her black brother (he is asleep in one of the cat towers so there’s no photo of him…yet!). The story in Josie’s own words:

“A father and son (sadly from the church) chased and shoo’d them for fun and they ran to the middle of the street.

We are lucky that a vegetable seller from the market helped us stop the traffic and buy us time to catch the babies, who ran in panic.”

I’m so thankful to that vegetable seller, and that Josie and Sheilla were in the right place at the right time for these sweet, innocent kittens.

The shelter is so full right now, and the ladies are doing their very best to look after all the sick kittens as well as keep up on the cleaning to try and prevent an outbreak. They could sure use our help.

Please consider donating if you can, or sharing our posts. It helps even more if you add a few words when doing so.

Thank you to all for your support, we’re very grateful.

https://www.paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

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Sarina

I wrote once: Resurrection is not a miracle, it’s a journey.
(original post here: https://www.facebook.com/wearethewhiskerssyndicate/posts/433374463526961)

The post was about Libby. Almost four years ago, she greeted me late at night, running down the hill from the side yard of a house where her colony lived, just ten minutes walk from our residence.

Her lips was cut by a drunk, yet she ran toward me with merry and glee, as if nothing bothers her.

It took me a year to restore her, from an incapacitated cat to a loving, patient, graceful twelve years old kitty whose face looked as if she was only two.

What I thought was her rescueversary, was yesterday; Thursday. We were on the run since morning for chores and errands, and I barely missed that crumpled, tiny kitten on the doormat of Colonial Broadway Theater from eighteen hundred something, now functioning as a cultural gallery.

Across from that gallery was a longtime abandoned Colonial house, owned by a dying, old time supermarket chain Sarinah (the H is silent). For decades to end, the building has been abandoned in decay and become the sore to the scenic Braga street, where part of Bandung was preserved in its glory back in the beginning of nineteenth century.

Just recently, that building was renovated to become Sarinah Hotel @ Braga, a wonder of colonial architecture and class.

She is eight weeks old. Her brown tabby coat was dirty and dusty, washed off like the mat underneath. All her whiskers were cut, and she has so many fleas, the baby wipes we used to clean her impromptu, turned red and brown by the blood of her wounds.

But we have twenty two kittens already, and are gasping for funds beyond our little salary.

She peered at us with that certain look that become her trademark. That look without sound, but loud, clear and confident that like many others before us, we will just walk away; with or without reaction.

Halfway down our crazy pile of chores and errands, she soiled my backpack and I know the smell all too well.

Our new baby has Panleukopenia.
But what medicine should we give, because she is only one and a half ounces?

We lay her to sleep that night, after doing what we can, with all our hopes and prayers, though we know we should be ready for some pang of reality.

There was a pool of bloody diarrhea so thick around her in the morning, but we do what we can still. As long as she is still breathing, our fight is still on.

When we got home from the market with chicken, she can no longer move. She was so cold and so still, we thought we’d lost her for sure.

Sheilla kept her in the fluffiest blanket, carrying her and begging her to hold on. I gave her sub cu and antibiotics, maybe all of the last time.

Two hours later she sat on her tummy and peered at us, asking for food.

We gave her manuka honey, spirulina, and nutritious gel, mixed in pedyalite.

Three hours later she crawl to her best of ability, but she drank by herself.

One hour later she ate baby food mixed with pedyalite. One lick after another, but eat she did.

We named her Sarina, after the resurrected dying building.

Half an hour ago, she meowed at me for the very first time, and I willingly obliged with another scoop of baby food and nourishment.

It’s too early for a celebration, it’s too soon for a sigh of relief. Sarina has long way to go, and we will never know the future.

But at least we know she choose to spend her spare life with us, and therefore, we are not giving up on her, just like she did not give up on us.

~ Josie

Help me help Sarina on her journey toward health and happiness. She has the whole life ahead of her

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

DANCING IN THE RAIN

Actually, it’s not raining anymore. It’s late at night and the downpour has just stopped. The street is still wet; and the leaves are still dripping.

On one of the pavement line, a big black ant was desperate to run away; with its tiny stick-like legs. The wet street is slippery, the cold is freezing, and the calamity above is relentless.

Calamity? It’s too cute to be one. It has wet fur, but round eyes and tail ringed; waving and in good spirits, patting and sweeping its hopeless prey.

“And why are you here?”

She does not answer. She was shaking and dirty, but when I put her back down, she has nowhere to go.

She only sits by my foot, and ponders which way to go.

Just then, the rain restarted, and she though she should better continue her journey.

I thought, she was going home, but there was no home. There was no porch for a shelter, there was only her and that empty path downhill, under the rain.

Yet her tail held high and dancing in the rain.

Isn’t that what life should be? It’s not about kicking the rear or breaking leg; it’s not about standing on top, hand on hip, laughing out loud, it’s not about being the best.

It’s about dancing in the rain, and giving the best.

It’s about walking the walk.

It’s about keeping on trying.

It’s about focusing on the dear and near, and keep standing, even after the fall.

So I ran after her, and asked if she would like the best I can offer: a crowded shelter, but it’s dry and warm.

Mountain spring water, and little food, but enough for everyone.

She followed me and let me dry her up.

She waits in line for the big ones and those who came first, then enjoys the bowl all by herself.

She is not sharing her mat, and taking charge of the baby milk, despite protest from the rightful owner(s).

And who can say no, to such a sweet face?

So she has her bowl, and the kittens has new one to share among them.

And we all live happily ever after, or so we hope, as long as our fundraiser does not falter.

~ Josie

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

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HOW DO YOU TALK TO AN ANGEL?

How do I talk to all of you?

Near or far, small or big, once or often, financially – most of all – and by shares, comments, love, prayers, encouragements, all of you have relentlessly lent your hand and folded up your sleeve to stand with us through the depth of the battle that swamped us last week.

USD 650 that you help us with was doubled last week, and has paid for Rexie II (ginger tabby) tumor removal surgery. Most of it has paid for the emergency treatment for the six babies who had lost their mother, even before they can see how she looks like. As they grow up, they will know Mama White/Pinky Lee and Mama Mika as their mothers, but if it’s not because of your motherly gestures who sustain them, they wouldn’t even make it today.

On the same day the kittens arrived, we took Illy (white with ginger ears), slumping in front of the stair steps leading to a self service laundry. He was hungry and he was sick (Chlamydia) but all he has is an empty plastic cup, with remains of coffee that spilled to his legs.

H.M.S (white with grey ears) lived by the river just a few steps away, where I found our late Big Sister. Kids around the area are notorious for picking kittens up and carry them everywhere as toys. After they are done, they drop them off just about everywhere or even throw them into the river. HMS can’t walk. He laid himself down by the riverside in a hopeless attempt to drink, but the water receding too far below him. He has serious dehydration; he hasn’t eaten for at least four days, but he can now walk and has learned to eat baby food, after drinking only milk for a few days, due to his extreme undernourishment.

Peter (blue tabby) was trying to beg food from a bigger cat on the park, just after we left the whole colony and walked to our motorcycle. He was mercilessly shoved away, bitten and chased off, but Sheilla was fast enough to run back and get him away from his hungry assailants. Peter has bad mange on his head and crazy amount of fleas.

We were desperate for food that night after the park, so I thought we can just go to one of the late night food depots that opens only on weekend, near where I work. At the corner of a bankrupted distro that now turned itself into coffee shop (following trends that sweeps over the whole town) a little brown tabby sat by to do his wee wee business, when a young man in trendy fashion kicks them on the face.

Startled, he ran away with his business dripping behind him, then sitting a few steps further away to the corner to finish what he started, only for the guy who seemingly glued onto his cellphone came over and kick him again.

The man was not smiling, he walked slowly as if he was deep into his own connection with his cellphone, and yet he bothered enough to follow a helpless little kitten just to kick him off in the middle of its vulnerability.

It was too obvious that the kitten was in pain and confusion, from the kicks, and from his interrupted business.

It was too obvious that I don’t care if my shirt would smell of urine so I ran across the street and pick him up before the next kick flew.

It was not that obvious how I accidentally swept the young man’s cellphone off his palms, and sent him into panic chasing his flying fancy gadget.

Your donation, doubled to the dime, had helped paid for Suzanna’s (tortoiseshell) treatment. You all have met Suzanna a few months ago with that gaping, pinky finger size hole on her back that has eaten her flesh so much, I can see her hip bones from outside. Her wound has been healing wonderfully, but a week after she was spayed, another ulcer formed nearby the healed wound. The second one too, with your help, is now healing.

You also helped Hime (pronounced: he-may, it’s Japanese for “Princess”) recover from her malicious earmite. For some reason, her earmite was resistent and furious; within days she lost her balance and even cannot walk due to fluid built up in her ear. Although she is still finding her way into health, we are doing what we can to get her back to her cheerful and energetic self.

Belle’s oxygen tank is on its way, thanks to you all. She has to have various brochial aids, supplements and medicines, but she is getting better. She can walk twice as far, and jump up and down our dining table. We have to mash her food, because she cannot chew yet (too tired) but she is coping well with her condition and eats several times a day although with smaller size.

Last, and foremost, your fierce and unrelenting love had helped ninety five cats to survive one more week. In the middle of extreme monsoon and calicivirus outbreak that creeps through town from one end to another, we are able to stock ourselves enough for medicine and provide good food to defend them from harm and disease.

We took USD 100 away from the total amount to buy Revolution and carry them at all time in our persons. Alongside calicivirus, we have mange outbreak across town and every clinic is fighting for enough supply. We have to ask for help from Singapore for stock. Obviously USD 100 is not enough to help, but for the time being, and especially because I need to start working on paying our mortgage, it’s the only amount we can spare.

So, how do I talk to an angel? How do I talk to you?
The words escape me, but still, even though it won’t describe how deep is my gratitude for all your help, here are two words, sent to you with my deepest bow.

THANK YOU

~ Josie

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

SATURDAY NIGHT’S ALIVE

It’s just five pm, and the love is in the air. Young couples start meeting, old couples start their weekend, family gathering, a little dinner by the candle light, travelers come home, or start dropping by for a getaway. Shoppers find their paradise.

Here we are. Me in front of the computer, working; Sheilla outside, cleaning. Tuna day every Wednesday and Saturday should be easy for us; because we don’t need to cook, and all the cats will have all the fun and leave us alone.

We should be done by eleven this morning; but yesterday night came a message in Instagram about a stray cat mother who gave birth to seven kittens on top of a sewage line in the basement of a government owned (and run) pulmonary clinic, and never again made it home.

Seven kittens. How can we afford them? Even with the two of us working round the clock finds us sleeping at midnight and restart at dawn.

And I am the sole breadwinner of the family.

Belle suddenly have asthma attacks, and she breathes so heavily, she cannot eat more than three licks at a time, much less walk from one room to the other, although our entire house is mere 36 square meters.

To be or not to be, that is the question!

So we dumped twelve pounds of steamed tuna into the chiller, and went separate ways. Sheilla to the kittens, me to the vet.

She had to go into the contaminated drainage line because three of the kittens fell down under. One did not make it, but six went out to the new world.

My vet was screaming at me as soon as I opened the door to her downtown clinic. There is a cat just hit by car, whose owner was angrily adamant that he has no hope and should be PTS. All the riot and loud voices, and she stayed at the other end of the room, while the cat and her helpless maid is on the table.

Long story short – after four vets, two vet techs and a rescuer: she didn’t want to spend too much money on treating the cat, so it should be gone. Period.

So the cat stayed in the clinic because no one want to PTS a cat without trying, and before we were halfway done treating him there were two emergency cases and my vets were tugged everywhere.

Two emergencies done, two more come. Four surgery had to be postponed, and in the middle of all the explanation, three more emergencies, two panicky pet owner, and a stressed cat from another (unregistered) rescue house who always boasted to me about them getting volunteers and not me. Well, as far as I ever know during my hours in the clinic, none of the volunteers want to go beyond carrying the basket in, put it on the table and be gone with their Instagram selfie. In today’s case, the volunteer is a beautiful young lady with a frilly satin dress who looks as if she is on a date (or ready to be so) and therefore not a single finger on the crying kitty.

Every single person who can handle cats in that clinic had their moment running into the bathroom, or the kitchen, to simply said “what the heck?” took a deep breath and ran back out to deal with our lively Saturday.

We forgot lunch, and when we remember, forget about it. We have six very hungry kittens who climb and cry and snuggle everyone. Mika and Mama White (Soon Pinky Ubiquitous Lee, for Kim Woolbright) came to help, but none of them stayed put until each has their tummy filled to the brim.

We need to buy an oxygen tank for Belle and build a small crate, or chamber to put her in and be filled with oxygen (or nebulizer) every time she has her asthma attacks.

That moment when (naturally) one would say “Enough! Just once I am doing this!” and “No More!”, “Finito!”

But this is our Saturday night life, and we don’t need to sing “One day I’ll be Saturday night” because in our part of the world, everyday is Saturday night and our Saturday night is alive.

~ Josie

Can you help us with our lively Saturday?
Paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

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